Ace England allrounder Ben Stokes, who played stellar roles in helping his country win two major ICC trophies in quick succession, may not turn up for England’s ICC World Cup title defence, but is fully committed to playing the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year, despite having injury issues, according to reports.
The England Test captain retired from the 50-over format in July 2022 as he was finding it increasingly difficult to manage the workload resulting from playing all three formats of the game. The allrounder reportedly walked out when the chief of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) sought to convince Stokes to go back on his retirement.
Stokes smashed an unbeaten 84 in the final of the ICC World Cup in 2019 at the Lord’s, taking his side level with New Zealand’s score of 241. This pushed the match into the super over and eventually led to England winning their first ICC World Cup crown. Stokes was in sublime form throughout that tournament with handsome scores against Sri Lanka, Australia and India. He then helped England add another world title as they defeated Pakistan in the final of the ICC World T20 in Melbourne last year. Stokes played his part with an unbeaten 52 off 49 balls.
Although Ben Stokes had played the last of his 105 ODIs back in July last year against South Africa, his performance in the ICC World T20 showed that he can still make a difference in limited-over formats.
England’s white-ball coach Matthew Mott said following the ICC World T20 victory that he would love to see the burly allrounder back in England’s ranks when they embark on their big ICC World Cup defence in India.
“Absolutely. I did say you could always unretire. It will be a decision that’s up to him,” Mott said, according to an iNews report.
“The door is always open for a player of that quality but we are also very aware that his main focus is red-ball cricket as the captain,” Mott said during England’s ODI series against South Africa earlier this year, according to an Indian Express report.
Mott had sounded Stokes out a couple of times after that but found him to be “non-committal”. The England white-ball coach, however, has given the allrounder time a deadline before which he needs to make up his mind. “The issue about if he wants to play, we don’t need to know for a while,” Mott said. “Halfway through that summer, gauging how he is feeling physically and mentally that will be his call if he wants to put himself up for selection.”
Ben Stokes has been struggling with a bad knee that saw his participation in last month’s Test against New Zealand severely curtailed. However, though he has played down fears that his IPL participation will jeopardise his chances of playing the Ashes (June 16 to July 31), he knows that coming out of ODI retirement and playing the ICC World Cup and ODI matches before that may put him in danger of missing the marquee Test series against India early next year. Stokes would want to do well as a player and a captain in the series in India and look to cement his legacy.
Ben Stokes is a key member of the IPL side Chennai Super Kings, who had bought the allrounder for a whopping Rs 16.25 crore at the IPL mini-auction in December last year. “I’m going to the IPL. I’ve had conversations with ‘Flem’ and he’s fully aware of the situation with my body,” he had said earlier this year, according to a report in the DailyMail.
CSK are confident of Ben Stokes’ services for the entire duration of the IPL this year. “Before the auction, the BCCI had conveyed to us that the English players will be available for the entire IPL,” said CSK CEO Kasi Viswanathan.